Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nica Lalli visits

Last night, the campus nontheist group got Nica Lalli to come over for a talk and dinner. Nica Lalli is an art educator from Brooklyn, and the author of Nothing: Something to Believe in.
So Nica is one of those "friendly" types who isn't so interested in trying to argue for or against a god, but rather in getting on with life. Many people, including atheists, think Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens (the unholy trinity) focus too much on just religious criticism. There is a role for such criticism, but we also need books to put a human face on the movement. Well, now we have at least one such a book, thanks to Nica. In contrast with other popular atheist books, Nothing is not about criticizing religion, but about her personal story of how she grew up without religion.

Nica prefers the word "nothing" to all the other labels. She thinks that we should actually get to know people first, before labeling and putting them into separate boxes. I really sympathize with this. Why, just the other day, a friend of mine was making a bunch of off-hand comments on how several things I said were the "skeptical" things to say. Something about that attitude was a little irritating. I don't think the way I do just because I'm a skeptic--it's the other way around! Freethinkers have a real mess of identity politics. Every word seems to have a ton of hidden meanings. On the other hand, (and here comes some very light criticism) I think part of the problem is also that freethinkers seem to be awfully fond of creating whole new words that further divide, as Nica does too with "nothing." But then, I would have trouble arguing that "nothing" is at all divisive.

Anyways, meeting her was pretty cool, because she's the first "celebrity" I've met. Well, Dan Barker came by a few weeks ago, but I had to leave right after the talk. I read about these people, but I never expect to meet them myself. She was very down-to-earth. We talked about art, the weather, and food, as well as objectivism, animal rights, and creationism. She was interested in meeting college atheist activist groups, which didn't exist in her time. I'm not, strictly speaking, a member of the local group, so I was sort of meeting them at the time as she.


Anonymous said...

what did you talk about concerning objectivism?

miller said...

One of the people with us was an objectivist, so they started comparing Ayn Rand's books and talking about their historical context. Beyond that, I can't say much, since I honestly don't understand what objectivism is all about.